Tāmaki Makaurau boasts a packed calendar of family-friendly annual events that showcase the city and its multicultural communities, art, music and food.
Aotearoa’s biggest city attracts top-drawer international musicians – such as Sir Elton John and US pop phenomenon Billie Eilish – for sold-out stadium and arena shows that bring visitors from around the country and further abroad.
There are other more nostalgic and historic events that utilise Auckland’s diverse landscape – such as the Anniversary Day Regatta, and Round the Bays fun run – while the Pasifika, Chinese Lantern, and Indian Diwali festivals celebrate the city’s cultural diversity.
Here are some of the highlights to look forward to over the coming 12 months.
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Experience the best of the South Pacific at the largest Pacific Island cultural festival of its kind in the world in Tāmaki Makaurau next March.
The annual event now attracts about 60,000 visitors for a celebration of traditional island cultures, food, music and dance, with performances from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawai’i, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Aotearoa.
The festival will return in 2023 after Covid-19 forced the cancellation of February’s 30th anniversary 2022 celebrations, while the 2021 event only went ahead after it was first postponed when Auckland went to level 3. The much-loved festival was also cancelled in 2019 following the Christchurch mosque shootings, and in 2020 due to Covid-19.
See: aucklandnz.com/pasifika
Superstar Billie Eilish is set to return to Aotearoa in September with her Happier Than Ever, The World Tour. The US pop phenomenon will play all-ages shows at Spark Arena on September 8, 9 and 10 – her first down under since 2019, when she played to sold-out crowds.
The new shows come off the back of her number one charting and critically acclaimed sophomore album Happier Than Ever, and will follow sold out tour legs through the US, UK and Europe. Having shot to fame over the last five years, with seven Grammy wins and 10 nominations, the 20-year-old became the youngest artist to headline Glastonbury in June, delivering a stunning show that has Kiwi fans frothing in anticipation.
See: ticketmaster.co.nz/billie-eilish-tickets/artist/2257710
New Zealand’s largest fun run takes place on March 5, following an 8.4km course around the Waitematā Harbour’s coastline. Up and running since 1972, Round the Bays remains an iconic event that attracts more than 34,000 participants and over 1300 teams from different cultures, workplaces and abilities.
Round the Bays 2023 will be a hybrid event, allowing entrants to participate in-person in Tāmaki Makaurau, and virtually to the rest of the world.
From the start line on Quay Street outside Spark Arena, the route goes along Tamaki Drive – which is almost completely flat – through Judges Bay, Hobson Point, Okahu Bay, Mission Bay, Kohimarama Beach to St Heliers Bay, where the finish line is beside Vellenoweth Green.
See: roundthebays.co.nz
After a three-year hiatus, the Lantern Festival will make a welcome return to Tāmaki Makaurau in 2023, celebrating the culmination of Chinese New Year festivities.
First held in 2000, Auckland’s largest annual festival and New Zealand’s largest Chinese cultural festival draws crowds of up to 100,000 people, and showcases traditional and contemporary Chinese culture and Auckland’s Chinese stories and communities.
The festival date changes every year according to the Chinese lunar calendar and every year a new Chinese zodiac animal is celebrated. The event was last held in 2019 at the Auckland Domain, before Covid-19 spelled the cancellation of each of the last three scheduled festivals.
See: aucklandnz.com/lantern/history
Auckland’s harbours come alive to celebrate the birthday of the City of Sails in one of the world’s biggest and most historic one-day regattas.
The 183rd edition of the Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta will take place on January 30, featuring hundreds of vessels – including vintage and modern ships, gaff riggers, sloops, racing keelers, multi-hulls, dinghies, radio-controlled boats, waka ama, sea scout craft, classic yachts and launches, and tugboats.
Commemorating the founding of the province in 1840, the occasion is a great day out for sailors, families and tourists, and thousands of spectators who can revel in the city’s maritime history.
See: regatta.org.nz
The Auckland Diwali Festival takes its inspiration from Diwali or Deepavali (row of lamps), an ancient Indian festival celebrated by more than one billion people throughout India and in Indian communities around the world.
Held every year in October at Aotea Square, Diwali – the Indian Festival of Lights – signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and the renewal of life.
Since 2002, the Auckland Diwali Festival has grown to be a hugely popular, free, family-friendly event showcasing traditional and contemporary Indian culture and Auckland’s diverse Indian communities. Festival goers can enjoy food, retail and information stalls, and performances across several stages.
See: aucklandnz.com/cultivate/diwali
Kiwis of all ages will flock to the Tāpapakanga Regional Park for the return of Splore – one of New Zealand’s most popular boutique music and arts festivals.
Set on the shores of a coastal farm park, the three-day family-inclusive event runs from February 24-26 and features some of the world’s best festival acts – bands, singers, MCs and DJs. A range of performing arts shows, and workshops, and Splore’s iconic Saturday night dress-up party are also highlights not to be missed.
This year’s festival – which was due to host the likes of Teeks, Ladi6, and Kora – sold out in record time but was cancelled in January due to attendee limits while Auckland was at the red light level. All ticket holders can keep their ticket for the 2023 event.
See: splore.net
Fans will finally get to see Elton John perform when he brings his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour to New Zealand in January 2023. The legendary singer – known for hits including Bennie and the Jets, Rocket Man, and Tiny Dancer – will return to Mt Smart Stadium on January 27 and 28, to play the two Auckland shows he was unable to perform after his 2020 tour was cut short when he was diagnosed with pneumonia.
John’s Farewell tour began in September 2018 and when it finishes in July 2023, he will have played over 300 shows in five continents. He first visited New Zealand in October 1971, playing one show in Auckland, and has performed here over 20 times since.
See: eltonjohn.com/Tours
An annual celebration for Kiwi movie buffs, the International Film Festival is a national event aimed at enhancing the appreciation of, and engagement with, art and culture through a diverse range of cinema.
With a bulging programme of between 150 and 170 features, the Festival opens in Auckland one week before it begins in Wellington, with the two overlapping for 10 of their respective 17-day seasons.
The 2023 event will mark the 55th Festival in Auckland, which is famously based out of the Civic Theatre and other cinemas including the ASB Waterfront Theatre, and Hollywood in Avondale. Book early to secure the best seats, while frequent attendees can purchase 10-Trip passes in advance.
See: nziff.co.nz/nziff-2022/auckland
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